Posts Tagged With: the biggest loser

Worthy of Weight Loss

Anyone who has ever carried around more than, say, five or 10 extra pounds knows that years of hiding behind excess weight can take a huge toll on your psyche. Tune in for just one episode of The Biggest Loser and it becomes abundantly clear that there’s a reason why these folks have ballooned to twice or even triple the size they should be…and it’s not because they simply have a larger appetite or slower metabolism than the average person.

It’s because there’s an endless list of emotional issues that go hand-in-hand with gaining and losing significant amounts of weight, and this week I think I may have just uncovered one of mine.

In my first year on Weight Watchers, I shed 80 pounds. Just like that. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy — I followed the program religiously and worked out at least five times a week — but the weight was falling off my body and I was enjoying the ride. I was basking in the compliments and delighting in smaller, cuter clothes, and it seemed like everything in my new healthy, active life was falling into place.

But then in my second year on the program, everything stopped working. The scale stopped moving, I became bored with my go-to meals, and there were days when heading to the gym was just another ho-hum chore on my To-Do. As my weight first began to plateau, all of the emotional issues that had fallen by the wayside in my first exciting, life-changing year of weight loss starting to resurface.  My old fears and insecurities came flooding back, and I knew there had to be reason I hit a wall the second my mind started playing catch-up with all the physical changes to my body.

I don’t feel worthy of success.

And, more specifically, I don’t feel worthy of weight loss.

My self-deprecating thoughts don’t end there. I don’t believe I’m good enough, talented enough, or smart enough to build a lucrative career, and I still, after nine years with my boyfriend, don’t feel worthy of his love. I know it’s ridiculous, but these nagging feelings of inadequacy are a side effect of 20 years of being the fat girl hiding in the corner, trying to remain unnoticed and genuinely believing that I wasn’t as good as everyone else.

I was fat, and they were not. They deserved happiness, and I did not.

But no more. I’m tired of brushing off compliments and assuming I’m not good enough to do anything. Being my own worst enemy has become absolutely exhausting, and frankly, I’m tired of finding new ways to make myself feel inadequate.

In the last couple of months, something has changed. I have a newfound motivation and commitment to finally achieve my personal weight loss goal (100 pounds) and start landing assignments in my favorite magazines, and the best part is that I am finally acknowledging just how hard I work, just how far I’ve come, and just how much I deserve to succeed.

Every time a negative thought creeps in — I won’t be able to finish my first 5K, I’m not talented enough to write for newsstand magazines — I’m making the conscious decision to ignore it. If I can make the effort to live a healthy lifestyle, then surely I can make the effort to tell myself when I’m being stupid.

I credit all of this with the fact that the scale is moving again. Well, that, and the fact that I am officially in love with PointsPlus!  I’m averaging a little less than a pound per week, and as of last weekend’s weigh-in, I am just shy of once again being within 10 pounds of my goal. The last time I reached this point, I ended up gaining about eight pounds back…and then gaining and losing those eight pounds over and over again for a year.  The time before that, the same thing happened.  I get thisclose to my goal, realize just how close I am to — gasp! — actually being successful, and immediately let my efforts start slipping.

Clearly I am more than capable of losing weight, and I’ve come this far already…so it’s pretty obvious that there has been something else standing in the way of losing the last 10 pounds.

And I think her name is Jennifer Nelson.

Whatever your goal is — lose 20 pounds, fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans, run a 5K, or finally try that Zumba or Spinning class — you have to realize that it’s going to be hard work. I know everyone’s looking for shortcuts and instant gratification these days, but unfortunately, when it comes to your health and physical fitness (or anything else for that matter), there is just no such thing as a quick fix.

But guess what? You are worth the effort.

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Committing to New Habits

We’re less than three weeks into the new year. Raise your hand if you’re already struggling to stick to your resolutions, and find yourself slipping back into some old habits.

(Me me me)!

The good news? I’ve already started accomplishing at least some of my goals for this year: I’ve found a new workout that I absolutely love. I signed a one-year contract at my local karate studio for Muy Thai kickboxing. And anyone who knows my tightwad ways knows there’s nothing that motivates me more than the thought of not getting “my money’s worth.” No matter, though — I’m already addicted. I think it’s a riot that this season of The Biggest Loser is incorporating two new trainers: one is a martial arts expert, and the other a professional boxer. As I’m watching the contestants release all their stress, anger, and frustration by punching and kicking and pretty much fighting their trainers to the death, I’m feeling more and more confident that I’ve found the workout for me.

I’m also completely obsessed with the Nike+ Sportband I got for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) You tuck a little sensor into your Nike+ sneakers, and then a watch displays your time, miles, calories, and pace. I finally have an idea of how far I’m running — and how fast I’m actually going — while I’m exercising outdoors.

The watch also features a removable USB you can plug into your computer, and then track and share that day’s running stats with others. I love, love, love it, and despite the frigid, wet, icy weather here in the Northeast, I’m opting to skip the boring treadmill and brave the outdoors at least twice a week. Well, when I’m not throwing elbows and performing roundhouse kicks, that is.

Best of all, I realized that I’ve actually been clocking a pretty respectable time while running at least a 5K all these months. I’m thisclose to being confident enough to enter a group race; I’m already looking around for 5K runs in my area.

In other news, I’m having some mixed feelings about Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program. On one hand, I absolutely adore the fact that it’s forcing me to stop obsessively counting calories, and instead evaluate a food in terms of its actual nutritional value. I love fruit, and now that it’s “free,” I’m eating pears, oranges, and grapes like it’s my job. Finally, I can eat bananas without worrying about “wasting” 2-4 POINTs! I’m still chipping away at my holiday weight gain, but nevertheless, I already feel lighter, less bloated, and more energized now that I’ve essentially banished many of the carb-heavy packaged snacks and processed foods from the house.

But does anyone else find themselves craving carbs even more? I never realized how much I relied on pasta and cereal and granola bars, and now that they count for a whole lot more (the POINTs for my Kashi GoLean Crunch have almost doubled), I’m reluctant to grab a Fiber One bar on my way out the door or snack on popcorn in front of the TV. I know I can still eat these foods, of course, and I do — it’s just more difficult to work them into my 29-POINT day, is all.

Meanwhile, I’m reading yet another writing book, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, and I started thinking about how the advice that’s meant to boost my success as a freelance writer (read: stop procrastinating) also applies to my somewhat lackluster approach to my continued weight loss. It lists some of the top productivity busters as: fear (yep); lack of short-term goals (correct); and perfectionism (is she writing about me, or what?)

I’m terrified of failing as a writer, and I’ve always been afraid of the unknown: life as a thin person. In my 25 years of life, I’ve never not been overweight. I stopped setting specific goals (like lose 15 pounds by my birthday) because I beat myself up if I don’t meet them, and my incessant need to be perfect is keeping me from sending article ideas to editors and leading to eating binges when I don’t adhere to every single aspect of the Weight Watchers program every single day.

Lately, that saying keeps rolling around in my head:

If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

I hate obnoxious cliches, but this one pretty much sums up every facet of my life that isn’t going the way I’d like it. I’m not making enough money as a freelance writer because I’m not actively seeking new outlets, and my weight loss has stalled because I’m not actively trying to change what I’m eat and the way I’m exercising.

It’s time to re-commit…to both my career and my weight loss efforts.

How are you all doing with your resolutions?

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Redefining Myself

Over the weekend, I took the first of three trial classes of Muay Thai kickboxing at a local karate studio. I’ve been looking for ways to shake things up for quite some time — not only in an effort to get the scale to budge, but also to ensure that I never get bored enough with my running-and-strength-training-six-times-a-week routine to lose interest and stop exercising.

This is something I’ve wanted to try for awhile…and I had a blast. I can’t wait to do it again. In fact, I’m already stressing about how I might even begin to make room in my budget for more classes.

In my conversations with the kickboxing instructor after class, I realized that I still have not fully embraced my new body or what it can do.

He referred to me as an athlete. He marveled at my ability to effortlessly complete 75 push-ups and 200 crunches with the rest of the class. He even complimented my arms — the body part of which I’ve always been the most self-conscious, and as such, the one I spend the most time sculpting each time I hunker down in the basement with my resistance band, kettlebell, and free weights.

He also insisted that I must have done this before (I assured him that I most certainly have not, beyond some watered-down cardio kickboxing classes at the YMCA). The intimidating tough-as-nails woman I was practicing punching and kicking drills with in class said the same thing. She called me a natural, and said I was ready to try much more than what the instructor allows newbies to do.

It was all tough for me to swallow. Of course I was thrilled by the compliments — and I have to say I was pretty proud of myself for holding my own in a class full of black belts and women who had been training for years.

But then there was another part of me that had trouble believing any of it. When the instructor started talking about how he “loves turning athletes into martial artists,” I convinced myself that surely he wasn’t talking about me. He’s complimenting my form and how well I did in my first class, and I’m telling myself that he’s just trying to sell me on paying for more classes. It’s his job to say those things. Right?

I may wear smaller jeans now, but in my mind, I’m still obese. I’m still sedentary. It’s a perception of myself that I can’t seem to shake. I’ve always been fat, and I spent my entire life assuming that I always would be fat.

I know it’s the reason why I can’t give myself credit for any of the physical feats my body can now accomplish.

When I beat my own time for a mile — I can finally do it in just under 10 minutes — I ridicule my big fat thunder thighs for holding me back. And when a ripped martial arts instructor comments on how muscular my arms are, all I can think about as is how much my loose arm skin flaps when I throw a punch. I’m just a fattie who’s trying to lose weight.

Meanwhile, nothing brings me greater pleasure than working up a sweat, and I’m thrilled when I wake up with sore muscles from the previous day’s workout. I run 8.0 speed sprints on a treadmill on at least a 5.0 incline, I regularly go on 8+ mile bike rides, and I’ve more than doubled the weight I’m lifting on the machines at the gym since I started working out.

I’ve tackled nearly every type of group fitness class, from spinning to Zumba to yoga. I collect new workout moves from my countless fitness magazine subscriptions like it’s my job. I have muscles bulging in places I didn’t know could have muscles.

I pound the pavement or hit the gym six times a week. My Christmas list this year consists of medicine balls and gliding discs, and new sports bras, sneakers, and running gadgets that can track my distance, speed, and calories burned.

I go out of my way to research and eat the foods that will help me burn fat and build muscle more efficiently, and that won’t weigh me down before a workout.

But an athlete?  No, not me.

Not yet.

*I’m the new Biggest Loser blogger for CafeMom, and I’ll also be writing “Healthy Living” posts on weight loss for CafeMom’s blog, “The Stir.”  You can find my stuff here.

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Biggest Loser

Last night I tuned into the latest season of The Biggest Loser.  And, as always, the contestants and their stories hit uncomfortably close to home for me.

As I sit there enjoying my low-fat mint chocolate chip ice cream cup topped with a dollop of lite whipped topping, it’s incredibly difficult to watch these 200, 300, 400, and even 500 pound men and women – many of whom are also in their twenties – struggle just to walk on the treadmill…or even simply stand up. 

I can see the pain in their eyes, and it’s like looking into a mirror.  

They all tell their stories of how they came to be the size they are today, and they all say the same things: I was always overweight, I was picked on by my classmates, my family life wasn’t good, etc.  I know exactly how each and every one of them feels, and I wouldn’t wish the torment of being trapped inside all of that fat on anyone. 

The worst part about it all is that those of us who have experienced what it’s like to be obese have nobody else to blame but ourselves.  Sometimes I almost wish I had some other disability beyond my addiction to food…something that was genetic, that I was born with.  Something that I physically could not control.  Because the knowledge that I feel worthless as a human being because I have chosen to gorge myself on milkshakes and peanut butter is a guilt that I’ll have to carry around with me always, regardless of the size I currently am on the outside.  I can blame my parents for my childhood, but as an adult, I continue to have these issues because of ME and MY own choices.

I may be smaller now, but I have an emotional attachment to food that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to break.  Maybe it’s because of how I was raised, maybe it’s because kids were mean to me, but ultimately, I was the one who slowly and deliberately piled more than 100 pounds of fat onto my body.  I’m finally ready to take responsibility for that…but it took me more than 20 years to stop denying that I had any problem at all.

Most of us know the basics of health and proper nutrition (eat less, move more), and yet when faced with the death of my grandparents or the stresses of job hunting, it’s almost like I just didn’t care.  You do whatever you need to do in that moment to soothe yourself; for some people, that means a slow drag on a cigarette or several glasses of wine.  For me, it meant repeatedly stuffing my hand into a bag of sour cream and onion chips in the privacy of my bedroom, or slurping up a McFlurry in the car on my way home from work.  It was my little secret.  All you have to do is maintain your denial that nobody else knows your “secret”…even when you split your jeans in high school, or your co-workers watch you order a burger and fries while they stick to salads.

The Biggest Loser is a wake-up call for the people who suffer like I did.  I need to watch it for the same reason that I must revisit my “fat” photos on a regular basis.  It all reminds me of person I was before, and the person I will never, ever be again. 

Just like checking out my residual stretch marks and loose skin in the mirror, watching The Biggest Loser makes it impossible for me to forget how far I’ve come.

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